How To Secure Amazon S3 Buckets


Modern computing is marvelous, functional, flexible, and scalable. Part of the reason this rings true is due to cloud services and businesses operating within/through the cloud. As a cost-effective means of conducting business operations, the cloud offers substantial benefits to its users on both sides of the client/business equation. One of the key players in cloud services is Amazon Web Services (AWS). Using AWS and i’s S3 bucket storage system is a fantastic way of leveraging cloud resources to your company’s benefit. But, as with many things in this life, security and potential threats can be a cause for concern. This article will suggest a few ways to secure your Amazon S3 buckets in order to prevent any potential security problems.

Understanding Amazon S3 Buckets

Getting started with Amazon S3 Bucket security starts with understanding them. So what are they? S3 is short for Simple Storage Service. S3 buckets are kind of like file folders on your computer. They will store objects and the associated metadata on the cloud. S3 buckets offer numerous features including logs, encryption, tags, and more. Using S3 buckets is easy as well. Once you assign it a data tier, you can designate login access or privileges for that particular bucket. Any S3 bucket can contain data from any of the established tiers. The idea is to provide a versatile storage medium with different accessibility, pricing, and redundancy considerations. Ultimately, it’s a scalable and fantastic resource within the AWS service.

Cloud Security Risk Factors

Although it remains an excellent example of technology done right, the cloud is still at risk from various security threats. Some of the more prevalent threats are breaches and unauthorized access. Violations of compliance and regulations are also a problem. Attackers always like to steal juicy login credentials and other pertinent access information. One of the most significant concerns is a lack of security visibility or strategies within the cloud. If you don’t know what’s going on, you cannot create a strategy or mitigate any potential problems. You also need to understand how the provider itself is keeping things secure. Know when the shared responsibility ends and something becomes your concern rather than the providers. Finally insecure interfaces or APIs, misconfiguration, and DDoS attacks are big problems facing cloud users every day.

Keeping Them Safe

Keeping your Amazon S3 buckets secure is much easier than you might think. Begin with ensuring the proper configuration of your S3 buckets. Misconfiguration of something within the cloud can lead to devastating consequences later. When it comes to S3 buckets, you have to fine-tune your permissions and configuration to get the best performance out of them. Failing to do so can result in compliance issues. Next, one of the best things you can do is encrypt your files and data. Doing so prevents an attacker from using your data in the event of a breach or hack. It’s a simple precaution, but sadly often overlooked. Other good security practices are to use role based access, regularly check access logs and audit logins, and always use multiple layers of security for any application in the cloud – but especially when securing your S3 buckets. Multi-layered security provides a fail-over point if one aspect of the security system fails, ultimately protecting the integrity of your data and mitigating potential problems.

Using Multi-factor Authentication

Another high quality security measure for the cloud – or just about any service really – is to use multi-factor authentication. In MFA, users must acquire secondary authentication codes in order to gain access to an application. It is a robust security measure that can prevent breaches or other potential attacks. The only real downside to multi-factor authentication is that it sometimes can be a bit of a hassle for the user. That’s why it’s essential to use a decent method for accomplishing it such as a text message, email, or an authenticator app. You can incorporate multi-factor authentication conditions into your S3 bucket policies easily. To do it, users have to meet certain criteria:

  • Have permissions to access Amazon S3
  • Have an attached IAM policy that allows them to call GetSessionToken.
  • Have an MFA device configured for use with their IAM identity.

If users meet these criteria, you can establish the policy within your S3 bucket by following AWS’ guide to establishing and writing bucket policies.


While working in the cloud and with S3 buckets in particular offer plenty of leeway and amazing benefits to everyone, security remains one of the most consistently important aspects of working with the cloud. Whether you’re working consistently with S3 buckets or building applications using well architected framework principles, security remains a critical consideration. Following security best practices is always in your organization’s best interest so be careful and do what you need to do to continue operating efficiently in the cloud without putting your data at risk.


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